Q&A with Vaco permanent placement experts Kim Wainwright and Meagan Krift

Let’s talk about business as unusual, shall we? So much has changed over the past months — from how we work, to where we work, to what we’re working on — that it’s hard to find the time to reflect on where we were and where we need to be! 

But that is exactly what we need to be doing.

We recently seized a few moments to chat with Kim Wainwright, managing director of Vaco’s Direct Hire Practice, and Meagan Krift, division director for Vaco Financial. What started as a conversation about the benefits of permanent placement staffing quickly became a conversation about how Vaco can best help clients find top talent in a fast-changing world.

We’re here. We’re ready to help.

What do you think is the most important thing you can offer your permanent placement clients and candidates right now?

Kim Wainwright: We all have to be more flexible in our own days as well as how clients’ days are working so that we can be creative together. More so than ever before, we need to really partner with and hear what the client’s challenges are. And we need to be able to come back to them with an answer in the moment or, if we can’t, get with someone within Vaco and take back a solution to them. We’re sharing what people around the country are doing right now.

Meagan Krift: I want our clients to know that we’re here when they need us and we’re ready to offer a solution and discuss creatively how to forge ahead. If the position is on hold, that’s okay! They’re figuring out what their business is going to look like in two weeks, in a month. Two weeks ago we were still figuring out how people can work from home. Now we’re starting to move forward in this new era and preparing for life on the other side. Simply making sure that in these unsettling times our clients know that we’re here to help when they need us — as a trusted business partner first and foremost — is so important. We’re in this together. That’s the right thing to do now more than ever, be an advisor, listen, find a creative solution.

What kind of changes have you and your team implemented in light of the coronavirus?

Kim: We’re all working remotely and we’re getting more and more creative every day. We’re changing how we serve our clients and our candidates. We are working with clients to arrange Teams, Skype, and Zoom interviews on their behalf. Clients are busier than ever with running their business processes and adapting — this is one more item we can take off their plates. And it’s working! We all have a strong “You can do it!” attitude and we’re seeing incredible flexibility. 

Meagan: We can definitely help our clients with videoconferencing and remote work and wellness strategies. I think seeing clients and candidates virtually during this period helps us keep that human connection and human engagement up. One of the things we’ve been doing is really helping our clients embrace technology by using it throughout the interview process — and coming up with creative ways to onboard new employees virtually is going to be more and more important in the coming weeks. 

How has your approach changed over the past few weeks?

Kim: We’re having to be so attentive, detailed, diligent, focused, and intentional. We always are, but it’s even more important right now.  Believe it or not, I think that what we’re doing right now, in this unprecedented moment, is even more successful than what we’ve done in the past. In the past, if we couldn’t meet with a remote client, we’d pick up the phone. Now we meet online. We were letting distance, scheduling, and parameters get in our way. Nothing is insurmountable anymore. All of this may even bring more personal connection back into our lives.

When we come out of this, we’re going to be even stronger. 

Why should a client partner with Vaco for their permanent placement needs?

Meagan: We are so blessed with technology that allows us to have a “meet and see” with our candidates. We can — and we do! — learn a lot from a candidate in a 30-45 minute virtual meeting. We can learn about their communication, their confidence, their listening skills, their overall presentation, and their demeanor. With more and more companies moving to a work from home model right now, this gives us the opportunity to assess soft skills as well as assess their ability to present themselves professionally in a virtual environment. This helps us present the best candidates to a client.

Kim: I’d say the  biggest advantage of partnering with Vaco Permanent Placement is having access to candidates who may not be active in the market. Great passive candidates are out there and they’re not looking at job boards; they depend on Vaco to bring the opportunities that align with their career goals to their attention. 

How does Vaco Permanent Placement help companies find the right talent for a specific position?

Meagan: Each Vaco office is built on the strong relationships of its leadership team. We’re experts in our discipline and many of us have decades of experience, contacts, and resources to tap into. Yes, relationships have always been important — and they’re what define Vaco — but I think that relying on our connections and relationships is more important at this moment than ever before. We take a lot of time to get to know the specific desires of our clients for each position we engage on so we can make sure we know what it will take for that new hire to be successful. More often than not, people are hired for who they are — for their soft skills, personality, etcetera — and not necessarily the bullet points they match on a job description.

As a recruiter, you have to know who your candidate is and what they can bring to the table today but you also need to understand what type of runway they could have in the future. The same goes for understanding our clients, too. We have to ensure our candidate is aligned with the core skills, culture, and future of what the company can offer. That assessment of “fit” is the most important part of recruiting.

Kim: Most companies bring us a job description and tell us why the position is open. For many staffing agencies, that’s enough. Vaco goes a little further. We take the time to get a feel for the client’s culture by meeting with all stakeholders in the hire, gain an understanding of the future of the organization, and consider the growth of the department and company. We discuss not just the skill sets needed to be successful today, but also the profiles and associated costs of candidates who might be able to grow within the organization in the future. Whenever possible, we want to build succession planning into the profile the client is looking for.  

In terms of process, we educate the client about how to attract the best candidates, offer details in the interview that align with what each candidate is looking for, and offer detailed debrief intel from the candidate after each interview. This information helps the client understand the drivers for the candidate and any aspect of the position that might be giving the candidate pause. 

What are some of the benefits of Vaco Permanent Placement in today’s climate?

Meagan: During these times we’re leaning in with each client and acknowledging that business priorities may have shifted over the last few weeks. We are all in a unique position — one that we never thought we’d be in — and that might mean some positions are on hold. That hasn’t slowed down our ability to build amazing candidate relationships and recruit for when positions open back up. 

Being aware that some organizations have been affected dramatically by the current climate while understanding there are others who are struggling to find talent is key. Staying curious to each candidate and client climate right now is so very important — we’re in on this together. Vaco remains the expert at talent management by being in tune to the unique qualities of both our candidate and client partnerships, that will never change.

We’re stronger together and we’ll be stronger on the other side of this.

How can Vaco Permanent Placement staffing help? 

We’re experts in managing change and making sure our partners come out of transitions stronger. Which is something everyone needs right now! No matter what tomorrow brings, our experience is here when you need it. 

Contact Us to find out if Vaco’s Permanent Placement solutions can help your business meet the challenges ahead.

Contact Us 


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